View Full Version : ever had chest tightness?

November 20th, 2002, 10:56 PM
Hi. I am a new masters swimmer and I am wondering if something I am experiencing happens to a lot of others. Soon after I started swimming regularly with a masters team I started feeling this occasional tightness in my chest. I didn't even think it would have anything to do with swimming, so even though I am only 26, I was worried about my heart and went to a doctor. She said it was probably just stress and did an EKG which turned out fine and told me not to worry. A couple months later, I still feel it once in a while, and I think it might happen more often after hard FLY/Breast workouts. I was thinking about going back to the doctor to see if it is a muscular thing, so I was just wondering if it was something common. Anyone had this?

Bert Petersen
November 20th, 2002, 11:19 PM
If you have what I have (and the symptoms sound similar), it's called asthma........
I have to use an inhaler at times. Bert

November 21st, 2002, 06:50 AM
Methodically look for all options. Muscle, heart, ect. Talk to your MD but give as much information beforehand.

Expanding on the Asthma issue.
1. Does the tightness happen only when in a pool? Does it happen while in the area?
2. Is it a specific pool.
3. If it is a specific pool do you notice anything different when you have the tightness?
a. Did they just scrub down the area
b. What is the chlorine level?

From experience of tracking my wife's asthma trigger this may take some time.

Good Luck

December 2nd, 2002, 05:36 PM
I'm new to this board, and one of the reasons I came looking for a discussion board was to ask the very same question.

I get a tightness in the chest, but not during my workout. For me, it's an occasional discomfort over the next two or three days. If I don't work out for a few days, it becomes less frequent, but it still happens. I, too, notice it more often after I've done a workout with fly. It feels like muscle soreness or bruising right behind the sternum more than pressure, but stretching doesn't seem to help it. Occasionally I'll also get a strange little spasm that lasts a moment or two and disappears, but it doesn't seem to correspond to any particular type of movement or situation.

The discomfort really isn't a problem, but there's sometimes a feeling of being short of breath that accompanies it. It's worst in the morning, during my walk to the train. Strangely, even though I feel out of breath, I can still push my physical performance without getting dizzy or feeling as though I'm going to pass out. In fact, if the tightness or shortness of breath is still there when I get to the pool, it disappears as soon as I start swimming.

The asthma comment has me wondering, because when I was a child I was never able to run in cold weather. In less than five minutes my lungs would burn so badly I'd have to quit. I grew out of it, but I recently read an exact description of those symptoms as a type of asthma. I never saw a doctor about it.

Reading over this, I realize it sounds worse than it is. It's really just a minor nuisance, but we've been so conditioned to think "heart trouble!" at the first pain in our chests that it automatically seems serious. I just posted because if anyone has any ideas, I'd like to hear them.

December 2nd, 2002, 06:40 PM
That actually sounds a lot like what I am experiencing, except I don't have the shortness of breath that you describe. My problem is also not at the pool, but rather during the rest of my day when I'm not even exercising. I was hoping that I would post here and someone would reply and say, "don't worry! that happens to all swimmers." But since that didn't happen, I'll probably ask my doctor about it again. I'll let you know if she tells me anything interesting.

December 2nd, 2002, 07:02 PM
One time I had something like that and went to a good chiropractor. I had a rib a fraction of an inch out of place. A good chiropractor may help. Tell him/her your symptoms and maybe they can adjust you.

December 2nd, 2002, 11:33 PM
I'm almost convinced that the shortness of breath comes more from tension in my chest brought on by whatever this muscular/skeletal problem is than from any problem with my lungs. If it were a real lung problem, I think I would become hypoxic when exercising and pass out, whereas an upper body workout has the opposite effect of easing it (at least while I'm working out). I think I feel that twinge behind the sternum, tense up and start breathing strangely.

Curiously, I had considered that the chest discomfort may be an alignment problem. I'm a television cameraman and spend a lot of time with unbalanced weight on my back. I actually started back swimming a few years ago, after a long hiatus, because swimming seems to loosen my back and pull everything back out straight.

Eh, who knows. My clan generally doesn't approach the doctor's office until someone has to carry us in on a stretcher. I guess I'll find out what's wrong at the autopsy. :D

Good luck, Laurie. At least you know you aren't the only one.

December 3rd, 2002, 06:26 PM
Laurie, when you say tightness in the chest, do you mean knuckle-cracking (or neck or back-cracking) tightness? If so, then I know what you mean. :) If I lean far enough back in my chair and really stretch the arms out to the side, sometimes I get a (frighteningly loud) pop from my sternum. :eek:

December 4th, 2002, 02:21 PM

Be very careful when stretching in your chair that way. I, too, have the same popping sound and one day took it too far. I now have torn cartilage and recurring pain that will never go away. It's kinda like a dull knife being thrust into the center of the chest and it comes and goes as it pleases.

December 4th, 2002, 03:58 PM
And here my mystery unravels a bit further.

I experienced that popping fifteen years ago after a particularly brutal karate match left me bruised and stiff for several days. As everything started loosening up, my sternum would pop like that whenever I would stretch a certain way. Over the years it popped less and less often, and I haven't really had a good crack out of it in several years.

The spasm I described earlier could be alternately described as a minor, but sudden, stabbing pain, in the vicinity of where it once would crack. It lasts three to five seconds, then disappears as abruptly as it arrived. When it first started happening I would jump and catch my breath from the surprise of it. Now I just say hi to it and let it pass.

I wondered if perhaps they were related, but the period of time that has elapsed between that problem and this one made it seem improbable. The feeling of tightness I feel now IS very similar to when I got my butt kicked.

Jeff, does your cartilage problem ever seem to interfere with your breathing in any way? I don't mean during a workout, but just during normal daily activity?